Wow… what a Rugby World Cup (RWC) semi-final. Wales were desperately unlucky to end up at the wrong end of a 9-8 result as France staggered through to the final to emulate their feat at the original RWC in 1987. Much of the commentary since the final whistle has centered around the sending off of Sam Warburton, the Welsh captain by Alain Rolland for a dangerous “spear tackle” in the 18th minute. Some of the articles written have been reasoned and logical, such as those by Paul Ackford in the Daily Telegraph or the comments made to the BBC by Robert Jones, an ex-captain of Wales.
Others, including many of the Twitter contributions immediately following the game were ludicrous and often offensive and certainly did their authors no credit. They exhibited proficiency with many four-letter words that they attributed to the referee but failed to communicate anything but their disappointment at what eventually turned out to be an epic Welsh failure where the best team did not win on the day. So close and yet so far…
The fact is that Alain Rolland had no choice but to award a red card. Ever since the infamous double-tackle on Brian O’Driscoll in the first minute of the first Lions Test against New Zealand in 2005, there’s been a growing awareness about the danger of a spear tackle and the consequences that can flow for a player who is picked up and then dropped on their head or neck. I doubt that anyone would have complained if the red card had followed a bad injury to Vincent Clerc, the French player who was tackled, but the fact that no serious injury ensued does not excuse the action of committing a spear tackle.
Law 10.4 (j) is “lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst the player’s feet are still off the ground, such that the player’s head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground, is dangerous play. Sanction: penalty kick
(By the way, the International Rugby Board (IRB) has published an excellent Laws application in the Apple iTunes Store that you can download and install on an iPhone or iPad, including video snippets to illustrate many points of law. The application makes a great reference point when arguments occur)
But the law is not the complete story. There’s also an IRB memo from 8 June 2009 that provides a directive to referees and unions as to what sanctions should be applied for spear tackles. Directives are used by the IRB to set standards and to instruct referees how the text laid down in the laws of the game should be applied in practice. The relevant text is:
At a subsequent IRB High Performance Referee Seminar at Lensbury referees were
advised that for these types of tackles they were to start at red card as a sanction and work backwards.
The IRB is serious about referees maintaining standards to protect players and all of the RWC referees will have been instructed to comply with current directives. The teams also know about these directives and understand the consequences of failure to comply. The matter is quite clear in both this RWC statement and the statement made by Paddy O’Brien, IRB referee manager, following the red card. The matter is therefore simple. A player made a spear tackle. The referee applied law and the relevant directive. End of story.
Today’s game between New Zealand and Australia didn’t provide quite so many dramatics but was quite absorbing for long periods before the All Blacks clinched a 20-6 win. On this form it’s hard to see how France will live with the All Blacks during next week’s final but Les Bleus have a nasty habit of surprising and we shall just have to wait and see.
Back to technology (much simpler and less passionate than rugby), I updated my geriatric iPhone 3GS with the new IOS 5.0 operating system. Despite some reports on the Internet that told of people ending up with bricked devices when they attempted to upgrade to IOS 5.0, I didn’t meet any problems and the upgrade was successful with all my settings moved back to the device after 30 minutes or so. I did not elect to use iCloud as that’s for another day and I want to be sure that calendar synchronization with Outlook isn’t affected by synchronizing data into iCloud.
I published two articles on WindowsITPro.com this past week.
- The first discusses the choice that small companies who want to use Office 365 face when they consider Plan P or Plan E for deployment. Plan P is for Professionals and very small companies; Plan E caters for SMEs. There are good and bad things about both and I look at the various issues in the article. It seems to have received a good reaction.
- The second explores the question whether any of the reviews written about cloud application suites are in fact useful. My theory is that the two major suites (Google Apps and Office 365 – especially the latter) are still a tad immature in terms of widespread deployment and experience with performance against SLA, support, upgrades, and so on. Reviews can do a nice job of describing current feature sets, and there’s value in that, but they can’t really tell you how a suite will function over an extended period.
Next week I am in Frankfurt for TEC Europe 2011 where I am delivering a keynote session on Monday morning and participating in a panel session on Tuesday. Hopefully I will get to other sessions and learn from the many great presenters that come to “The Experts Conference”. I shall report back here!